Category: Domestic Violence
Adding a New Jersey Parenting Coordinator for the Best Interest of the Children
Divorce and Parenting Lawyers providing counsel to clients in Lakewood, Brick, Colts Neck, Beach Haven, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties
Sometimes doing things the way they have always been done is not as effective as trying something new. For decades, divorces were focused on the parents arguing and yelling or settling down at the table to talk; the children embroiled in the crossfire were never asked for their opinion about what their future would look like.
More than one million children are affected by divorce every year. Millions of children will be mixed up in their parents’ conflicts, unable to escape the vulnerable and harsh world they experience daily.
As part of a pilot program from 2007 to 2012, Bergen, Morris, Sussex, and Union counties established a method similar to mediation for parents who were having difficulties avoiding conflict in the most basic of parenting issues. Despite having finished, judges still use the program when they feel it is necessary and would behoove the entire family. The one exception is if there is a history of domestic violence.
Parenting Coordinator Profile
A parenting coordinator is a neutral party chosen by the court or agreed to by the parents who are struggling with aspects of parenting decisions. Psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists, and even qualified lawyers are some professionals that make good coordinators. It should be someone with experience in working with families, especially children.
Mediation Role of the Parent Coordinator
A parent coordinator’s purpose is to help a family focus on the importance of their parenting plan by negotiating solutions to problems that the parents cannot find a solution to, even when a project is already in place. The use of a parenting coordinator can reprioritize goals, make way for compromise, discuss possible misunderstandings, and learn methods of communication to express oneself in a way that promotes collaboration and positivity.
Possible Scenarios for a Parenting Coordinator to Step In
A judge can appoint a parenting coordinator when they feel it is necessary, even after a final order is given or when a parent has violated the custody order and is held in contempt. If both parties agree, or one party can prove there is a need for a coordinator or the judge, analyzing the dispute, decides that one is needed based on the list below.
The judge can only appoint a parenting coordinator when both parents can afford to pay for the sessions. The child’s best interests would be best served if a parenting coordinator was appointed. If the judge decides it is a “high conflict case,” meaning that the parents in the case have used excessive litigation, verbal abuse, and distrust. There have been incidents of physical aggression or threats of physical attack. The parents cannot agree on the care of the children. The judge believes a parent coordinator can solve several of the issues.
Issues Handled by a Parenting Coordinator in New Jersey
It is important to remember that the parenting coordinator has specific content to stay focused on. There is no ad-lib or spur-of-the-moment discussion. The coordinator is there to work with the parents to reach answers to problematic issues. A parent coordinator facilitates productive discussions and identifies the stumbling blocks that the parents are experiencing that prevent them from making decisions that will allow them to parent together. The coordinator establishes boundaries and ensures that the parents treat one another with respect. Educating parents on making decisions that are in the child’s best interests is another skill the coordinator has. Frequently, the parents want to “win” the discussion without considering the benefit the outcome will have for the children. The parenting coordinator provides resources the parents can use for decision-making skills and documents all the progress made in the sessions. If necessary, the coordinator will bring the children into the discussion in a calm and safe environment to express their concerns without verbal attacks.
There are several topics such as diet, clothing, recreation, extracurricular activities, daycare and babysitting, vacations, education, transportation to and from visitation, health care management, and use of social media, among others.
Parenting Coordinator Appointed by Court
The court can appoint one for you, or you can request on your own that the court appoint one for you.
Talk to an Experienced Brick Family Lawyer to Supervise the Parenting Coordination Process in Southern New Jersey
The parenting coordinator focuses on specific problems between the parents and their possible solutions. The lawyer’s role is to make sure that the decisions made are legal and for the best interests of the client and their children. After each session, the parenting coordinator will draw up a document summarizing the day’s events and give it to the lawyer. Custody agreements, visitation, and child support can be discussed, but it is the lawyer who submits the motions.
Bronzino Law Firm has vastly experienced family lawyers whose goal is to make your experience as straightforward and productive as possible. Every family has its own needs and concerns. Our committed attorneys are empathetic and will listen to your unique issues in Toms River, Mantoloking, Stafford, Beachwood, Berkeley, Lacey, Ocean Township, and along the Jersey Shore.
Guide to Understanding How Controlling Behavior is a Type of Domestic Abuse
Coercive behavior can become a repetitive action in a relationship that needs to be stopped as soon as possible. It also qualifies as a criminal act of domestic violence in NJ.
In intimate and family relationships, coercive control is considered a type of domestic abuse and pattern of behavior by which a perpetrator will use acts of intimidation, manipulation, threats, isolation, humiliation, and demands (among other things) to destroy a person’s sense of independence and self-worth. Although this use of power to gain control is often seen as an early predictor of future physical violence, even when it doesn’t escalate to violence, coercive control leaves emotional scars and psychological trauma, which negatively impacts the victim’s mental health and may cause PTSD or depression. A 2015 survey on Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey showed that American men and women will experience some form of coercive control by an intimate partner, at similar rates, during their lifetime.
Since 2015, criminal coercion has been considered one of the 19 criminal offenses listed under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991. As an invisible chain that comes in many guises, it perpetuates an ongoing cycle of controlling abuse whereby the victim may feel dependent on their abuser and unable to escape the toxic relationship they’re in.
If you or you suspect someone you care about is being coerced or intimidated to do something in their relationship they don’t want to do, it is essential to act immediately in domestic abuse cases. Even if you are someone facing alleged criminal coercion charges in New Jersey as a result of a restraining order or other alleged crimes that put you on the wrong side of a domestic violence protective order, you need skilled criminal and domestic violence defense lawyers on your side to help protect your constitutional rights.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC understands that domestic violence is a serious crime that can significantly impact the victim and any children who witness or experience the abuse and have a long-lasting effect on those convicted of these crimes.
With offices conveniently located in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ, our legal team serves clients in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, as well as in cities like Allenwood, Bayville, Beachwood, Brielle, Howell, Manasquan, Pine Beach, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Spring Lake, and Toms River.
How to Recognize the 7 Signs of Criminal Coercion in NJ Domestic Violence Cases
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5, a person can be found guilty of criminal coercion or coercive control, if they purposefully and unlawfully restrict another’s freedom of action or force them to engage in an action, by means of threats to:
- inflict injury on their person or that of another person
- accuse another person of an offense
- expose a damaging secret that would subject a person, their business, or credit to contempt, hatred, ridicule, or scorn
- take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action
- bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action, except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the restriction compelled is demanded in the course of negotiation for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor acts
- testify or withhold information in a defense case or other legal matter
- perform any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the person making the threat, but which is calculated to substantially harm another person’s relationships, health, safety, business, career, financial standing, or reputation.
Typical Examples of Coercive Control & Emotional Abuse in Domestic Violence Cases
Emotional or psychological abuse is just as damaging to survivors, even though they are often harder to detect. Typical examples of coercive control are:
- isolation from one’s family or support system
- monitoring one’s activities via electronic recoding devices, their social media usage, or phone calls
- denying autonomy or restricting one’s freedom (i.e., taking their phone, limiting or denying access to transport, travel to school or work, or changing passwords)
- constant criticism, name-calling, or verbal abuse designed to erode self-confidence
- exerting control over finances and limiting access to money
- parental alienation
- controlling aspects of one’s personal health or hygiene, possibly even restricting their access to medical care
- threatening children or pets
- regulating their sexual relationship
- blackmailing or threatening to expose intimate personal information or sexual details
- manipulation in relation to clothing, lifestyle choices, or where a person might be at a given time
If you are concerned about coercive control in your relationship or someone you care about, don’t be afraid to seek help in the form of someone you trust or by calling the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233) to access information, services, crisis intervention, as well as referral and advocacy options.
What Role Does Criminal Coercion Play in Obtaining a NJ Restraining Order?
As a form of domestic violence and threatening behavior, criminal coercion is a “predicate act” or grounds for filing a temporary or final restraining order. Because this type of behavior is often what prevents someone from filing for an order of protection, escaping a dangerous environment, or fearing for their safety or that of others, it is essential to find experienced legal counsel who can guide one through the process of protecting themselves and their vulnerable loved ones.
To obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO), the person requesting protection must prove three elements:
- a predicate act of domestic violence occurred (one of the 19 PDVA criminal offenses),
- a prior history of domestic violence, and
- that the restraining order is essential in protecting their immediate safety and well-being.
A final restraining order (FRO) usually takes place a week or two after a TRO is granted to determine the truth or veracity of the initial complaint and if there is a continued need for protection. If granted, a FRO could impact and restrict where a person who is served lives, works, their child custody, and future job and educational opportunities, among others things.
If you are involved in a domestic dispute, defend your rights and contact our office today.
What Three Elements Are Necessary for a NJ Prosecutor to Prove Criminal Coercion
To prove a person is guilty of criminal coercion, a prosecutor must prove that the alleged person’s:
- conduct fell under one of the 7 prohibited threat categories or signs for criminal coercion
- the goal, intent, or purpose was to restrict the freedom of another or prevent them from acting or refraining from acting in a certain way
- purpose or goal was unlawful.
What Are The Penalties for Criminal Coercion Offenses in New Jersey?
Each case is unique, but depending on the severity of the underlying charges, a domestic violence offense may be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Criminal Coercion is typically classified as a fourth-degree crime, and if found guilty of this charge, you may receive:
- up to 18 months in prison and
- a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
However, if the alleged person’s goal is criminal, the crime is considered third degree. Persons convicted of a third-degree criminal coercion charge face:
- 3-5 years of imprisonment and
- up to $15,000 in fines.
Convictions for second-degree and first-degree criminal coercion can result in 5-10 years and up to 20 years, respectively.
Penalties may also be monetary, the convicted person may be required to attend anger management classes, and there is also the possibility of probation. In addition and in accordance with federal law, both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence convictions can prohibit an individual from purchasing firearms.
Why It’s Crucial to Have An Experienced NJ Lawyer for Your Criminal Coercion Case
Regardless if you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant, the thought of appearing and possibly testifying in court can seem overwhelming, but knowing you have a knowledgeable attorney by your side advocating for your well-being and safety and that of any children in your relationship, can bring you peace of mind in and of itself.
Skilled domestic violence attorneys are an invaluable resource to have, as they can present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, guide you through the protection order documentation filing process, protect your constitutional rights, and leverage years of their own experience to reduce much of the burden you may go through in cases likes these.
Contact a Brick, New Jersey Criminal Coercion & Domestic Violence Attorney Today
In domestic violence cases, it is critical to take action as soon as possible. Despite the current pandemic and unprecedented backlog of cases, domestic abuse cases are prioritized in New Jersey and expedited through the court.
If you live in towns such as Brielle, Rumson, Morganville, Manasquan, and Toms River, and want to discuss your unique family situation with an empathetic and experienced domestic violence attorney, contact The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC today online or by calling (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free and confidential case assessment.
Attorneys Handling Marital Torts in Ocean and Monmouth, NJ
Marital tort claims, some of the different types of wrongs for which marital torts are filed, and legal responses to those actions.
A marital tort is a civil action one spouse takes toward the other spouse or towards a third party that has interfered in the marriage. A marital tort is filed in response to the other person’s intentional or negligent behavior, according to the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. In a marriage, this type of behavior could include physical or emotional abuse.
Often, a marital tort is filed alongside a divorce. For example, a spouse may file a marital tort against his or her partner because of repeated emotional abuse he received. When a tort is filed as part of a divorce procedure, it is generally woven into the primary cause of the divorce that the judge will consider when determining asset distribution and other separation of property and parental duties. Often, a marital tort will be used by a spouse to gain some advantage in the divorce proceeding. However, this is not to say that they are always flippant or exaggerated ways for a spouse to financially bury another. The claims of physical and emotional abuse for which marital torts are filed are quite serious.
What are the different types of marital torts?
Some examples of marital torts include marital rape, assault and battery, repeated emotional stress, use of excessive force, false imprisonment, defamation, wiretapping, and Battered Women’s Syndrome. Additionally, some marital torts are filed during a divorce proceeding because one spouse claims that the other is hiding assets resulting in a fraudulent conveyance of marital assets. Other marital torts that often enter civil court during the process of divorce are claims that one divorcing spouse is invading the other’s privacy or that a parent is not abiding by temporary or long-term child custody arrangements.
The above is not an exhaustive list but speaks to some of the most common torts. It is important to note that many of the above examples are subject to domestic violence charges in the state of New Jersey. When they are brought to civil court in the case of a marital tort, however, they usually impact how assets are divided between divorcing spouses.
On Assault and Battery as an Initiator of Physical Injury Tort
Assault is the approach of a person with the intent to do harm, and the battery is the actual physical act of doing that harm. When violent assault and battery is an act of domestic violence, divorce may follow. An injured spouse can sue their partner for a tort of physical injury. If the injuries were serious, the civil tort could result in a substantial amount of money being awarded to the victim as part of the divorce agreement.
It is illegal for someone to tape a conversation in which they are not participating, even if that conversation is happening in one’s own home. A spouse who is, for example, trying to catch their partner cheating and secretly records a conversation can be slapped with a marital tort for wiretapping.
On Battered Woman’s Syndrome
Battered Woman’s Syndrome was first named in 1984 during the New Jersey Supreme Court case of State v. Kelly, 97 N.J. 178. A battered woman is someone who has been repeatedly physically or emotionally abused by her partner, so she’ll do what they want, creating long-standing psychological damage. To prove Battered Woman’s Syndrome, it was determined that the woman must have the support of a psychological medical expert, affirming that her experience caused long-term psychological harm.
Ten years later, in 1994, the New Jersey Superior Court: Law Division developed a four-part system for determining whether the cause of action for Battered Woman Syndrome can be proven. These four points are
- Engagement in a marriage or intimate relationship that approaches marriage in its proximity
- Continuous physically and/or psychologically harmful action caused by the defendant to their partner
- Longstanding harm caused by the continuous action during the relationship
- Inability to rectify the situation in the past or present, rendering the plaintiff in need of legal support
Malicious Use of Process
While there are very serious reasons for which a marital tort can be filed during a divorce, often, one spouse goes overboard in filing marital torts against their ex in order to get a leg up in the separation of assets. In order to curtail this, the partner can legally claim Malicious Use/Abuse of Process. This may or may not pan out to result in the wiping of some filed torts, but it could slow the partner in the question of brazenly filing torts down.
If you are undergoing a divorce and marital torts are involved, it is important to have skilled legal representation.
Contact our Divorce Attorney for a free consultation at our Brick Office
If you are considering filing or have filed a marital tort, or if you are defending yourself from one, we can help. At Bronzino Law Firm, we fight tooth and nail for clients in Lakewood, Toms River, Manchester, Red Bank, Stafford Township, Lacey Township, and other Shore towns.
Call Bronzino Law Firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to explore your possibilities. We will work towards protecting you and helping you.
Domestic Violence Attorneys Dealing with Modern Tracking Devices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
You might think of stalking as a person following you, however, modern technology brings a whole new twist to this issue.
Stalking is one of the acts listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 as part of the definition of domestic violence. It’s in the list along with homicide, assault, and harassment, and it can be perpetrated by an intimate partner, a former intimate partner, or a member of your household.
Stalking and Technology in Ocean County, New Jersey
You might think of stalking as a person following you, watching you, or bothering you with unwanted texts, emails, or social media posts. But with modern technology, it’s taken a high-tech twist that can be hard to protect against.
Lately, abusive intimate partners have been stalking—a means of exercising control by creating fear—using navigation technologies built into modern vehicles. They might also use devices that stick with magnets to your car.
Of late, there’s been an increase in stalking via technology. It has law enforcement and community officials concerned since stalking is traumatic to the victim. It has also been known to lead to violence.
Officials are considering turning the tables on stalkers by using technology to keep track of them. If a stalker is convicted, he or she can be required to wear a GPS monitoring device. The stalker’s victim also carries a device that gives a warning tone when the stalker is within a certain distance, and it sends a text to the victim’s cellphone. It can also notify law enforcement officials to come to the location.
There are concerns about the civil liberties of stalkers being violated by having to wear a device like this. So officials counter that they will only require it on people who, upon evaluation, are deemed likely to be the most dangerous. Signs that they will be dangerous include:
- If they’ve threatened violence before
- If they have access to weapons
- The time invested in the relationship. The longer the relationship has been going on, the less likely the abuser is to let go.
Because of civil liberties concerns, NJ officials want only the most potentially dangerous people to be monitored.
If the stalker turns up at weird places—like places you’ve never been before, and he or she has no experiential knowledge of you going there—and at suspicious times—when you’re more likely to be alone—you may have a tracking device surreptitiously placed on your car. We advise you to take your car to a repair shop and have a mechanic look it over carefully. If your car has a built-in navigation system that your intimate partner had a role in setting up, you may have to get a different car for safety’s sake.
As the technologies for tracking and surveillance become ever-more advanced and commonplace, stalking is becoming more difficult to fight. Perpetrators are desperate people and will use any tool they can get their hands on to gain power over and abuse their victims.
And many forms of abuse require no advanced technologies or knowledge of how to use them. Abusers can use everyday devices like cellphones too. Even then, intimate partner abuse is hard to fight.
Steps are being taken: domestic violence organizations are approaching large communications and technology companies to ask them to consider how their product might be misused and to reduce that risk in the design phase.
A great number of people are suffering in New Jersey alone today because of stalking and the whole range of acts of domestic violence.
If you are the victim or someone you love is the victim, please speak up and tell law enforcement about the crime or crimes. New Jersey law is written to protect victims of domestic violence. It gives them the means to file criminal charges and seek monetary compensation to pay for injuries.
You also need to speak with a domestic violence attorney in New Jersey. The best way to protect loved ones, and yourself, is to act without delay another moment.
Consult a Berkeley NJ Domestic Violence Attorney for an Initial Consultation Today
Call Bronzino Law and we will give you effective legal counsel to fight domestic violence and gain protection from future abusive actions on the part of the household member or the past or present intimate partner.
We are experienced with domestic violence law in all its facets, and we’ll work to make sure you get the legal support that’s necessary to fight domestic violence. We serve clients in Toms River, Jackson, Brick, Manchester, Freehold, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, and places around our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ.
Call Bronzino Law Firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a free initial consultation to explore your options. We will work to protect you, guide you, and help you put this abusive situation in your rearview mirror.
How to Manage Your Contempt Charges with the Help of an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney
Being charged with contempt of court can significantly impact your life and result in punishments as severe as jail time, a fine, or even a felony conviction on your permanent record.
Although a person can be charged with contempt for inappropriate behavior which delays or disrupts court proceedings, very often a person can be charged with contempt as the result of violating a temporary restraining order (TRO) or final restraining order in simple assault or domestic violence cases. They can also be found in contempt for violating a family law court order related to child support or in problematic divorce cases where equal distribution of assets, property division, or alimony/spousal support agreement are an issue. In other cases, contempt charges may be brought for failing to appear in court or respond to a court summons.
If you or someone you know has been charged with contempt of court in New Jersey, or if you or a loved one is seeking to enforce a court-mandated order against a co-parent for child support, child custody agreement, or failure to honor a marital agreement, it’s best to retain experienced legal representation. No matter how minor the violation may seem, we can help you protect your rights. Our defense attorneys approach agreement resolution with a collaborative and amicable mindset, but will not hesitate to aggressively defend you in court.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights and finding realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Brick, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Howell, Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River and all of Southern New Jersey.
What Constitutes Contempt of Court in New Jersey?
At its foundation, court contempt of court occurs when someone deliberately violates court order, does something to intentionally prevent a court order from being exercised, acts inappropriately in court, or disrespects the judge while court is in session, or behaves in a disrespectful manner while court is in session.
Even if the contempt violations were unintentional or committed in good faith, and may seem as minor as making contact via text message, a social media post, email, or a phone call, the state may move forward with charging that person with a disorderly persons offense.
What is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt in New Jersey?
Although there are numerous ways to be found in contempt of court, it is generally differentiated between direct and indirect criminal contempt and civil contempt.
Direct contempt is considered inappropriate behavior (i.e., offensive language or not following court rules or decorum) that occurs in front of the judge, which is dealt with on the spot. Indirect contempt occurs outside the presence of a judge and may involve a lawyer or juror willfully violating a judicial order, such as a “gag order” to not discuss the case or court proceedings outside of court. Proving this type of offense requires the court to rely on third-party testimony.
Civil contempt of court charges, on the other hand, are often brought after the plaintiff files a suit against a defendant for financial damages or injunctive relief from the court. Typically examples are failure to obey a restraining order, pay child support, follow parental visitation orders, or a divorce decree.
Another distinction between civil and criminal contempt of court charges is the constitutional safeguards a person charged with criminal contempt has. Whereas criminal contempt is subjective and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil contempt must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
What are the Penalties for Contempt in New Jersey?
The purpose of imposing criminal contempt charges is to punish disobedience and to preserve the court’s authority. Punishment for civil contempt charges are remedial and are designed to benefit the complainant. New Jersey family courts exercise a great deal of discretion when imposing penalties, and more often than not, the person found in contempt is ordered to pay the other’s attorney’s fees.
Depending on the situation, violating a court order can be classified as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree criminal offense, especially if one commits another crime while violating the order. Although the threat of jail is often enough to gain compliance with a court order, the court may impose community service, wage garnishment, fines, drug or alcohol treatment, or loss of driving privileges.
Whether it’s yourself or someone you know, violating a restraining order in New Jersey can be classified as a fourth-degree criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense.
A disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine: up to $1000
- Incarceration: 6 months in the county jail
- Criminal Record: a conviction will appear on your criminal record
A fourth-degree felony in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine:up to $10,000
- Incarceration: up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
- Probation: an extensive probationary period
- Criminal Record: a felony conviction appearing on your criminal record
In family law matters, when one party knowingly refuses or fails to follow a court order it can result in additional stress, confusion, and possibly fear for one’s safety and wellbeing. If the alleged contempt of court violation is significant, you should seek to remedy this immediately.
If you have concerns or questions about a possible contempt of court case, contact an experienced Ocean County family law attorney for advice.
Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Contempt of Court Case Today
Punishment for a contempt offense can be significant. So whether you failed to appear in court, behaved inappropriately while in court, or unknowingly violated a court order, you will need a skilled Brick, NJ defense attorney to fight your charges.
If you have been charged with contempt in New Jersey or seek to enforce an existing court order, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, so that you can explore all of your available options. Regardless of how small you think the violation may be, failure to take aggressive action can direly impact your life for years to come.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping clients in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities including Seaside Heights, Fort Dix, Keansburg, Howell, Wall, Beachwood, Tinton Falls, and other Jersey Shore communities. Our firm is built on the foundation of strong attorney-client relationships which larger firms simply cannot match.
Misconceptions about the Divorce Process Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
Providing support and counsel to those considering divorce in Sea Girt, Brick, Wall, Seaside Heights, Toms River, and across the Jersey Shore
Getting a divorce in New Jersey, or any state is not exactly a straightforward process for most couples. Having a skilled and experienced team of family law attorneys is essential for a swift and just divorce proceeding that ensures you receive your fair share in the split, both because of the many nuances to New Jersey divorce law, as well as the delicate dance that a separating couple must do in navigating the division of assets and decisions surrounding important and sensitive matters such as child custody.
Another reason it’s important to have a skilled divorce attorney is that they can help you determine truth from falsehood when it comes to New Jersey divorce law, filing for divorce, and navigating the proceedings. There are many misconceptions about divorce that the collective takes to be true when in reality they couldn’t be further from it. Read on to learn more about some common misconceptions regarding New Jersey divorce, and seek the guidance of our skilled and experienced team of family law attorneys to ensure that your rights and best interests are honored and reflected in your divorce agreement.
True or False? One must remain in the marital home if they wish to have rights to it as an asset.
Contrary to popular belief, one does not forfeit rights to a marital home if one leaves the house and marriage before or during the divorce proceedings. ‘Abandonment’ can be claimed as a reason to file for fault divorce. However, when someone leaves the marriage, they are not leaving their financial right to the marital assets, of which the marital home is one.
True or False? Only those who have been married for 10 years are eligible to receive alimony.
The granting of alimony rests on a number of determining factors, none of which are the number of years that a couple has been married. Factors that determine a spouse receiving alimony include whether the person gave up working to tend to a family, therefore placing themselves out of the job market; whether they financially supported their spouse in receiving professional or educational training during the marriage; whether the spouse is able to sustain the standard of living they had prior to the divorce, et cetera. These considerations will be made by a judge to determine the amount of alimony a spouse is required to pay, and for how long.
Similarly, there is no guarantee that a spouse will receive alimony because they have been married for more than ten years. Again, the length of the marriage is not a determining factor in the granting of alimony. While it is more likely that a spouse will receive alimony if they have been in a marriage for a long time because it is more likely that one of the determining factors will have been met in this case, this is not guaranteed.
The only exception to this rule is ‘durational alimony,’ which was set in place with the passage of the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014. Under the Act, a person can be granted alimony for the number of years that a couple was married, if the marriage lasted fewer than 20 years, and there are addendums that can be placed by which this alimony can be lifted if circumstances change. As such, there is no such thing as permanent alimony, another common misconception regarding New Jersey divorce law.
True or False? There is a legally-binding 18-month separation period for divorce in New Jersey
While the traditional 18-month separation is a relative equivalent of a ‘no-fault’ divorce, it is not the only legal way out of a marriage. The 18-month separation period in which the exes do not live together for 18 months leads to a legal divorce with no cause of fault determined.
On the other hand, if there is fault listed as a cause for divorce – such as adultery, abandonment, substance addiction, domestic violence, etc – there is no time requirement for the filing, and the spouse can seek to exit the marriage immediately.
The State of New Jersey has recently recognized ‘irreconcilable differences’ as legally sound grounds for divorce that do not require the 18-month no-fault waiting period. Instead, a filing for divorce for irreconcilable differences requires a 6-month period, or otherwise put, proof that for at least six months, irreconcilable differences led to the filing for divorce.
In order to ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital assets and custody arrangements in a divorce, have a skilled member of our team working on your behalf.
Contact a Divorce Attorney for clear and accurate legal advice at our Brick or Sea Girt NJ Offices
If you are navigating a divorce and are swimming through the sea of misinformation, make sure you schedule a consultation with our highly qualified family law attorneys to help orient you to clarity regarding your options and next steps.
We support clients in Sea Girt, Brick, Wall, Seaside Heights, Toms River, and across the Jersey Shore. Whether you are part of a fault- or no-fault divorce and have children or not, we can support you in this important transition.
Domestic Violence Victims and Alimony/Spousal Support Brick and Sea Girt NJ Attorneys
If you or someone else has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a spouse or significant other, we will move quickly to protect you.
Until recently, California was the only state that affirmatively enacted legislation disqualifying alimony and spousal payments from domestic violence survivors to their abusers. While some courts either leave marital misconduct to the court’s discretion or prohibit considering evidence related to it, the New Jersey legislature has taken bold steps to prevent survivors from financing their own abuse.
Though normally used for contract law, more legislature and family courts have invoked the doctrine of unconscionability to restrict the enforcement of harsh and unreasonably one-sided agreements or contracts. Today members of New Jersey’s judiciary use this doctrine to deny enforcing divorce settlements that would require survivors of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to pay alimony and spousal support to their convicted domestic violence abusers because such payments represent a continuation of abuse and control.
If you or someone else has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a spouse or significant other, we will move quickly to protect you. The Prevention of Violence Act was formulated to protect the victims of abuse within domestic relationships. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has represented numerous clients in cases involving domestic abuse, and our domestic violence attorneys will guide you through the process of getting a temporary restraining order (TRO). We will accompany you to the domestic violence hearing, which typically occurs within a week of the temporary restraining order’s issuance. We will argue on your behalf to obtain a more permanent order of protection or final restraining order (FRO).
Analyzing Alimony Provisions in NJ Divorce Settlements to Prohibit Payments from Survivors to Abusers
Spousal support or alimony is a challenging and often contentious issue in any divorce. When the obligation is to pay support to a former abusive spouse in a reasonably comparable manner to which they grew accustomed during the marriage, this unreasonable benefit to one party and the absence of meaningful choice can make these payments unconscionable.
Early proposals to change NJ alimony statutes, specifically Assembly Bill A399, regarding the alimony maintenance statute N.J.S.2A:34-23, unfortunately, did not pass. Luckily, under the 2014 amendments to the alimony statute, N.J.S.A.2A:34-23(i), NJ Family Courts have the ability to deny alimony to an abusive spouse because:
“No person convicted of Murder, N.J.S.2C:11-3; Manslaughter, N.J.S.2C:11-4; Criminal Homicide, N.J.S.2C:11-2; Aggravated Assault, under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12- 1; or a substantially similar offense under the laws of another jurisdiction, may receive alimony if: (1) the crime results in death or serious bodily injury, as defined in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-1, to a family member of a divorcing party; and (2) the crime was committed after the marriage or civil union. A person convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder may not receive alimony from the person who was the intended victim of the attempt or conspiracy. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the court to deny alimony for other bad acts.”
NJ family court judges are given broad discretion in weighing each factor when making their alimony decision. The latter emphasized the judge can interpret the section to mean that a criminal act of domestic violence should result in a mandatory forfeiture of alimony rights.
With discretion and determined advocacy, an experienced Ocean County alimony attorney is essential when negotiating your alimony settlement or even terminating an existing alimony agreement. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and help you incorporate this argument into your legal strategy.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Domestic Violence and Alimony Attorney Today
If you think about settling your alimony issues without legal representation, especially those where domestic abuse is involved, think again. Alimony is required to be paid for several years equal to your marriage duration, so if you were married for ten years, you would most likely be expected to pay alimony for ten years. Such a life-impacting agreement should never be made without an attorney by your side to protect your rights and your financial future.
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has received countless favorable reviews from past clients; their words speak for themselves. If you are looking for an experienced, knowledgeable, hard-working, and tenacious alimony attorney, look no further. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC is ready to begin advising you and fighting for your rights today.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our offices today, contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102. We also handle modifications of existing alimony agreements, as well as enforcement of alimony when your ex is not complying with the agreed-upon terms.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19 Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
At the height of the first surge of Covid-19 in April, the New York Times reported that the rate of domestic violence around the world was rising, triggered by economic stress and increased isolation.
In a pandemic, the facets of domestic abuse are the same as at any other time: the perpetrator enforces isolation from family and friends, practices constant surveillance, dictates increasingly impossible standards of acceptable behavior, and limits access to necessities like food and clothing.
Lockdowns during the pandemic feed into these controlling behaviors because surveillance and control are easier to do in close quarters. In the pandemic, victims of domestic violence may have increasingly found that access to help in the form of friends and family, or the police and the courts, was reduced or completely cut off.
Two investigators were concerned that the same thing might be happening in New Jersey. They researched how such factors as home confinement and court closures have impacted domestic violence rates in this state.
They found that victims have faced intensified difficulties over the past several months. When they studied arrest data from the Newark Department of Public Safety and restraining data provided by the New Jersey Superior Court, they discovered that:
- Calls to police about domestic violence dropped statewide right after the lockdown began. Experts believe the sudden drop in police calls was a key sign that unreported domestic violence was rising. Victims may not have had enough privacy to call for help, did not know how to access help because of court closures, or had difficulty leaving home or knowing whether shelters were open.
- Arrests began to increase in late March of this year through July 2020. The Newark Department of Public Safety, in its own analysis, reported 188 domestic violence incidents from the end of March through April, an 18% increase over the same period in 2019.
- There was a relatively low number of applications statewide for temporary restraining orders (TROs) in March and April. At that time, most TROs were issued by the police, and very few were issued by the courts because courts were closed. Victims may not have known where to go or were reluctant or unable to go to their local police station. As courts reopened, the number of TRO requests rapidly increased. Compared to pre-March levels, total TRO requests rose sharply from late July to mid-September.
These findings are a serious wake-up call.
Domestic Violence Usually Gets Worse
With the pandemic rising and continuing into the winter, families face heightened stress in possible renewed lockdown measures.
There is help available. You can get a restraining order even when courts are closed. Victims also need to know that shelters and agencies are open, even if they’re working within the constraints of social distancing.
Call us today with your Domestic Violence related issues in NJ
Do you, or someone you love and care about, need help with domestic violence but aren’t sure how to access help?
This link will provide you with the NJ Domestic Violence Hotline
You can also talk with one of our attorneys, by video conference or phone call, to learn about the legal options you have that will help you be safe. These include filing for a TRO, filing for child support or spousal support for the abused partner, emergency custody of children, and how to file for divorce.
Identify Signs of Financial Abuse with Monmouth and Ocean County NJ Lawyers
Financial abuse can most often be found in romantic relationships and marriages.
The abuse often happens gradually, making it hard to identify and even harder to escape. Women are the most vulnerable, but anyone can be at risk. Many people do not recognize financial abuse as a form of domestic violence. But in fact, nearly all physical domestic abuse victims report that their partner also uses financial control as a weapon. In fact, financial dependence is one of the main reasons many victims do not leave an abusive relationship.
Financial abuse can take many forms but is generally when someone maintains control over the couple’s financial resources. An abuser may use subtle tactics or more overtones. The abuser might spend money without permission, withhold access to money, or prevent someone from working. The abuser might block a person from accessing bank accounts or force them to cosign on a loan. Since the loan is cosigned, both the abuser and the victim suffer the consequences of late or missed payments, including damage to their credit score and any legal action for not paying the debt off.
What Are The Signs of Financial Abuse?
In many cases, financial abuse occurs gradually. It can happen without someone realizing — no matter the relationship. That is why it is important to know the signs of financial abuse. The sooner you can recognize it, the quicker you can guard against it.
Here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- You are not included in financial information or decisions. You don’t know what accounts you have, the spouse’s compensation structure, or where the money is located or spent.
- You are on a budget that your partner decided. A partner puts you on a budget or and gives you an “allowance.” Maybe you are regulated to a certain amount of cash every month, or your credit card purchases are under a watchful eye.
- You sign documents without knowing what they are. You might sign business forms, tax returns, and loan requests without knowing what they entail or even having a chance to read them. Sometimes you may know what the paperwork is for and are forced to sign them under duress.
- Your partner is using your money or property without your permission. They are stealing from you, spending your money on something you didn’t authorize. They may demand to use your credit card or force you to obtain a loan. They may change passcodes or close accounts that you previously had access to, opening new ones in either of your names.
- Your partner does not contribute to the partnership as agreed upon. You pay for all of the utilities, rent, and groceries. They don’t contribute to the household and are making no effort to do so.
- Your partner makes your career decisions telling you what your salary must be and when you can and cannot work. They frequently ask you for evidence of your income and demand that your salary be deposited directly into a “joint account” that they control.
What Are the Effects of Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse can have detrimental physical, emotional, and financial impacts, even years after the abuse has stopped. Victims of financial abuse may have difficulty keeping a job or finding a job due to their spotty employment history. This is often due to an abuser limiting them from attending work or school, interfering with their job, and causing job loss. Because of the abuser’s psychological tactics, a victim may feel less confident in their ability to secure a job, save money, and make a solid life for themselves.
If someone defaults on payments or takes out personal loans in your name, your credit score could be affected from a financial health perspective. When credit scores are harmed, it can take years to rebuild — making it difficult to buy things like a home or vehicle.
For most financial and domestic abuse victims, leaving the relationship is the healthiest and safest option for the long-term. Many abusers make it hard to leave the relationship. They might track your activity or prevent you from accessing your bank account. Still, there are ways to remove yourself from a difficult situation and rebuild yourself as a financially independent person.
- Be aware of and involved with financial decisions. If you are asked to sign the paperwork, understand what it is that you’re signing. If something seems out of the ordinary, ask questions, and pay close attention. Don’t make excuses for an abuser or obligate yourself to pay their loans, debts, or late fees.
- Ensure your personal information is safe. Change your passwords, bank pins, access codes, and credit card login information. Freeze your credit to make sure no one else can apply for credit or a loan under your name.
- Set aside some savings. If you can safely save money without your abuser knowing, sock away cash for your future life. Consider hiding cash and valuable items or opening a new bank account your abuser doesn’t know about.
- Work toward supporting yourself. Brainstorm different jobs you could do and develop the necessary skills. Don’t worry if you don’t have the means to support yourself yet. With time and the right resources, you will get there.
- Keep your credit safe. Every year, you can get one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus. Dispute any errors or fraudulent activity on your report as soon as possible — ideally within six months of the occurrence.
Where Can You Get Help as a Victim of Financial Abuse?
The impact of financial abuse can be long-lasting, impacting credit scores and the ability to secure steady employment. But there is hope. There are ways to break away from an abuser and rebuild your livelihood. There are also good money habits you can put into place to build your overall financial strength. If you suspect someone you know may be a victim of financial abuse, there are ways to get help.
Consult an Ocean County Family and Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
If you are suffering from economic abuse and would like to talk to someone about your legal options, the Bronzino Law Firm, with our offices in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, is prepared to provide you with the information and assistance you need to stop your abuser from continuing to control your finances.
Our legal team of top-notch attorneys wants to help you return to a peaceful and secure state of mind. Please visit our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Eligibility of a Final Restraining Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Read on to learn more about how a New Jersey appellate court recently affirmed who can be granted a Final Restraining Order under domestic violence law.
The New Jersey Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act states that a person can get a final restraining order (FRO) against someone that has committed an act of domestic violence against them. Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, which includes, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, isolation, and/or financial control” by the New Jersey State Police. New Jersey law outlines specific acts that constitute acts of violence specifically punishable under domestic abuse law and who can constitute as a victim of domestic violence.
Who is protected under domestic violence law?
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act determines that a person can be considered a victim of domestic violence based on their relationship with the offender. Those who are protected by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are over the age of 18 or are an emancipated minor, and they have been harmed in one of the 19 forms of domestic violence (outlined below) by
- a spouse,
- a former spouse,
- a present or former household member,
- someone with whom they share a child or are pregnant, or
- someone with whom they are “dating,” according to the legal definition of dating outlined in the courts.
Recently, a New Jersey appellate court affirmed the above, particularly in the case of “householder.” The appellate court reversed the issuance of a FRO for harassment under domestic violence law because the plaintiff and the defendant had never lived in the same home at the same time, and therefore did not meet the legal requirements outlined in the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act.
What is legally considered domestic violence under New Jersey law?
The Act names the following as forms of domestic violence that are punishable as such by law:
- Assault – This is defined as making unwanted physical contact with a person, whether or not it causes pain; as well as the threat to touch someone without their permission or do them harm
- Sexual assault – Sexual assault involves sexual harassment such as abusive or unwanted comments, insistence, or threats.
- Criminal sexual contact – This is forcing a person to have sexual contact.
- Criminal restraint – Criminal restraint is the forceful withholding of a person’s physical being against their will. It may go hand-in-hand with a criminal sexual contact charge.
- Harassment – Harassment is having continued communication with someone when they have asked for it to stop; it intends to force some response or action or cause stress.
- Cyber harassment – This is harassment that occurs online and may or may not include physical follow-up or public shaming, or harm. It is intended to or does cause emotional harm.
- Stalking – Stalking is following someone against their will and maybe in person or through technology. It is different from harassment because it is the presence more than the action that is bothersome and threatening.
- Threats – A threat is a verbal expression that one will harm another. This does not need to be followed up to be considered an act of domestic violence under the law.
- Robbery – This is removing or taking someone’s property without having their permission.
- Burglary – Burglary is entering into someone’s private property without their permission, whether or not something is removed.
- False Imprisonment – False imprisonment is detaining someone, either physically, financially, or psychologically.
- Kidnapping – Kidnapping is the physical removal of someone from their home environment without their permission. If it is someone who qualifies as a victim of domestic violence, this carries a domestic violence charge; yet it also carries its own charge.
- Criminal mischief – Criminal mischief is damaging or vandalizing someone’s property.
- Lewdness – Showing your private parts to someone without their permission carries a lewdness charge.
- Contempt of a restraining order – Going against the terms of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a Final Restraining Order (FRO) can result in further domestic violence charges.
- Crimes involving risk – Those protected by the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1991 are protected from any act that could threaten their physical safety.
- Homicide – In addition to carrying its own charge, someone who kills a spouse, ex-spouse, the parent of their child, or a householder is subject to additional charges under domestic violence law.
Contact our skilled Domestic Violence Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of domestic violence lawyers supports clients across New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth counties, in all matters regarding Final Restraining Orders and other domestic violence case issues.
To schedule a consultation with a team member today to discuss your case, 7328123102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.